When Good Friends Go Bad

March 8, 2008 at 10:05 pm (Cussed Dumbers, That's not funny...)

I’ve mentioned before how I enjoy seeing people I know on TV. TV seemed like a miracle when I was a kid, and even more so when the magic box captured a friend or acquaintance. Now, with technology’s leaps and bounds, TV is passe. But I still get excited when I recognize a face.

This weekend has outdone itself when it comes to faces from the past.

Last night I was web surfing. The 10 O’Clock News came on. Meth Watch blah blah blah. House burns down, teen rescues cat. Blah blah child porn blah blah blah.

Then I hear a friend’s name “…will be sentenced in June, and faces five to twenty years. Now here’s Shephanie with the weather.”

WTF? I heard my friend’s name, and saw his picture. What did he do? Crap. Damn you, internet. Always distracting me when I should be doing something educational and informative, like watching tabloid news. I clicked the cable TV remote to remind me to watch the 11 O’Clock News, then went back to the internet. Maybe I can find some info there. First stop Google.

This friend, who I will call Irv, was one of my closest childhood friends. A handful of us were doomed to be raised Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we all rebelled accordingly. I still see a couple of them. Most have moved to Eastern Oregon, away from everybody. (A side effect of incessant teasing, I’m sure.) I last saw Irv in the mid-’90s. He was looking for a large amount of pot, and wanted to know if I could help. I’d long retired from the marketing of such, so it was a short visit. His phone number was eventually lost. Life went on.

We began hanging out about age 12. We started conversing in the Kingdom Hall bathroom, then before and after services. Sleepovers followed. He was adopted by the supposed cousin of a VERY famous entertainer, although the money didn’t trickle down that far. They all lived in a trailer well out of town.

We were all spanked as kids, but he was the only one who consistently had belt marks on his back. His parents would come visit my parents, but he’d have to stay home to clean the house and cook dinner. One time, he called about 10:30 PM, asking when they’d be coming home, because dinner had been warming for three and a half hours. When they told him to just wait, and no, he couldn’t eat until they got home, my mom got pissed off and tore into them. She confiscated their cake and told them to go feed their child. Quietly I cheered. I knew Irv could take anything they could dish out, but he’d probably get a big whippin’ tonight. For calling to ask about dinner.

We weren’t angels. Long before I started smoking pot we skipped school and went to Portland. We came across a car illegally blocking a church entrance in the Park Blocks. The keys were in the ignition. He told me to walk to the far corner, and be ready to jump…

He hopped in like he owned the car, snagged me, and we were off on an all-day joy ride. We cruised Vancouver, which was technically a federal offense. (Stolen car across state lines. I knew that from being a depression-era gangster groupie.) We boosted a case of empty Pepsi bottles and returned them for the deposit, which, along with our candy money, gave us enough gas to drive all the way back to Sandy.

We were 14 and 15. He disappeared with the car, and it was months before I saw him again.

During the great ice storm of 1978-79, I helped him deliver phone books in Troutdale. We listened to an 8-track loop of Pink Floyd’s Animals, smoked hash and had a ball slipping around on the solid sheets of ice in his beater station wagon. The phone books were great for traction. We eventually made it back to my house, where he slept over before heading back into the unknown. Except for the brief visit in the 90s, I haven’t seen him since.

Until the other night. I waited for the 11 O’Clock News, Googling. Yikes! He was the one arrested for child porn. His wife had turned him in. And it wasn’t just a few images. He had a library of videos, and several thousand still pictures.

It was clearly an obsession gone wild. Was I surprised? Hell yes! Compared to my other friends (and me especially) he seemed pretty normal in the sex department. I was considered the pervert of the group, but *I* was obsessed with older women. You know, in their 20s and 30s…

I don’t know quite how to feel about this. We’ve drifted apart, and I can swear without hesitation that our sexual preferences have gone their separate ways. I can only assume that all those beatings he took were for dark reasons. If he takes a beating for not doing the dishes properly, he’d have to dread what would happen if he betrayed a family secret. A dark secret. I am speculating. I have no proof. But it’s the only excuse I can make for him.

And it’s no excuse.

I feel a little sick about it. I want to come to his aid, but then I don’t. I want to grab him by the hair, smack his head into the wall a few times and ask him, “WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?!” But he’d probably find some kind of cold comfort in that.

You… should… have… known… better.

That was last night. Tonight’s TV sighting was much more uplifting and hilarious.

COPS filmed for a couple of weeks in Portland last summer, and I’ve been waiting impatiently for the episodes to air. Tonight’s first segment was a new one, and I looked away from the computer monitor, giving the TV my full attention. I may know someone…

Ooh! What’s this? Portland, Oregon. Street Crimes Unit. Hey! I know you! My favorite defender of the peace was the subject of the segment. He visits the store regularly for munchies and bathroom breaks as well as official business. He’s in semi-plainclothes. Jeans and a tee shirt. The back of the shirt says Portland POLICE. With a jacket on, he looks like a construction worker.

They are watching a couple sitting at a park bench on the Waterfront. A scruffy middle-aged man sits next to them for thirty seconds, then the man moves on. Officers intercept him a block or two away from the dealer, reach into his tee shirt pocket and pull out a gram of weed. It’s then that I get a glimpse of the guy’s face; it’s Drunkass Dave from the car wash! He was a sorta-homeless guy who lived in the car wash next to the last store I worked at!

Dave was quite the character. He’d long been 86ed from the previous store. He’d scam money every which way he could, a resourceful guy. He’d get incredibly drunk. Of course, that made him tough, and he’d end up getting punched out. He was once beaten and thrown down a flight of stairs by a schizophrenic woman. She beat his ass, then had him arrested. He was evicted from the car wash after falling off an air duct attached to the ceiling, (alcohol-related) then suing the owner of the building for negligence. I guess he felt that the air duct should be attached firmly enough to support the weight of a 150-pound drunken man.

Dave was partner-in-crime with the fellow in the ‘blow job’ story told here. Looks like Dave got the $500 for the TV appearance. I wonder if he’s back around the car wash. I wonder if he’s buying the beer tonight.

If so, he’ll have to find someone to buy it for him. He’s still 86ed from the store next to the car wash.

A final note about recognizing people on TV. My older brother is a retired communications teacher, and the anchor for the 10 O’Clock News is a former student of his. He recognized Wayne Garcia while watching the story about Irv on the web.

Jeez. The 10 O’Clock News is on in a few minutes. Which of my friends will be on tonight?…

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